Child support can help ease the financial burden, but what exactly does it cover?
The good news is child support is meant to help pay for many of the basic necessities for raising children. We’ll walk you through the major types of expenses typically covered to give you an idea of what you can expect.
While child support amounts are determined on a case-by-case basis, you can feel confident that the essential costs of caring for your kids like food, clothing, health insurance, and school are usually included.
Take a deep breath—you’ve got this, and child support has your back when it comes to providing for your children.
Basics of Child Support Payments
The basics of child support payments cover essential expenses to help raise your child. This typically includes:
A portion of rent, mortgage, utilities, and household necessities. The idea is to provide your child a place to live that suits their basic needs.
Money for groceries, school lunches, and dining out. Nutritious meals are important for a child’s health and development.
Funds for purchasing and caring for clothing, shoes, coats, and other apparel suitable for your child’s activities. Kids grow fast, so this is an ongoing need.
Things like haircuts, toiletries, school supplies, toys, and recreational items. This makes sure your child has essential toiletries, activities, and entertainment.
Doctor visits, medications, dental and vision care, counseling or therapy. Making sure your child has access to necessary healthcare and medical treatments.
Fees for school events, sports teams, clubs, summer camps, and hobbies. Giving your child opportunities to socialize, learn skills, and pursue interests and talents.
Help with the cost of a vehicle, gas, public transit, ride-sharing, etc. Enabling your child to get to and from school, activities, appointments and social events.
Providing financial support for the wellbeing and development of your child is extremely important. While the specific amount of child support is determined on a case-by-case basis, these essential expenses should be covered to give your child the necessary care and opportunities they need. Every situation is different, but the goal remains the same – the best interests of your child.
Common Expenses Covered by Child Support
Child support covers the basic necessities for raising children, including essential expenses like:
Food and clothing
Kids grow fast, so child support helps pay for nutritious food to support their growth and development. It also covers the cost of clothing, shoes, coats and other essentials.
A portion of child support goes toward housing costs, including rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and home maintenance for the residence where the children live the majority of the time.
Child support contributes to health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits, dental care, vision care, prescriptions and any necessary medical equipment or supplies for the children.
Funds from child support help pay for school tuition, books, supplies, activities, tutoring or any other necessary education-related expenses. This includes the cost of daycare, preschool or after-school programs as well.
Child support goes toward transportation costs to drive the children to school, activities, medical appointments, visitations and anyplace else they need to go. This covers vehicle payments, fuel, maintenance, insurance and licensing or registration fees.
Kids benefit greatly from participating in sports, clubs, summer camps and hobbies. Child support helps make sure children have the opportunity to pursue their interests and talents.
In summary, child support is intended to share the financial responsibility of raising children between parents. It provides funds for all reasonable expenses related to children’s essential well-being, care, education and activities. The goal is to maintain a child’s typical standard of living even when parents are living apart.
Extracurricular Activities and Child Support
Extracurricular activities play an important role in a child’s development, but they can also add to the costs of child-rearing. Many types of extracurricular expenses may be covered under a child support order.
Sports teams and activities
From soccer and swimming to chess club and theater, participating in sports and activities outside of school helps children develop skills and interests. Equipment, uniforms, lessons, and competition fees can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars per year, depending on the activity.
These types of expenses are often considered reasonable and necessary for child development, so child support may help cover all or part of the costs.
Summer camps allow children opportunities for learning and growth outside of the school year. Overnight camps, specialty camps focused on interests like science, art or music, and day camps can range from $200 to $1000 or more per week. Because camps provide valuable enrichment and social interaction for children, child support funds may be applied to help pay for part or all of the costs of appropriate camps during school breaks.
Tutoring or enrichment classes
Additional educational opportunities like tutoring, academic coaching or enrichment classes in areas where a child needs or shows a particular interest can also promote healthy development. The costs for these types of programs may be covered in full or in part through child support, especially if recommended by teachers, counselors or other professionals.
While child support is meant to provide for a child’s basic needs, it may also cover certain discretionary costs that aid in a child’s growth and development. Be prepared to provide details about the activities, their costs and benefits to your child when requesting extracurricular expenses be included in a child support order.
With open communication and a willingness to compromise, you’ll find the right balance of opportunities for your child at a reasonable cost for both parents.
Medical and Dental Costs Included in Child Support
Child support payments are meant to cover essential expenses for raising children, including costs for their health and dental care. As a custodial parent, you want to make sure these critical needs are met.
The court will typically order the non-custodial parent to pay for a portion of the children’s health insurance premiums in addition to the base child support amount.
This helps ensure the kids have proper medical coverage. If insurance isn’t available through either parent’s employer, the court may require the non-custodial parent to pay for private health insurance or contribute to the cost.
Out-of-Pocket Medical Costs
In addition to insurance premiums, the non-custodial parent is usually required to pay a percentage of all reasonable out-of-pocket medical costs for the children like:
- Co-pays for doctor visits, prescriptions, and other services
- Costs for prescribed medications, medical devices, and treatments
- Expenses for vision care like eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses
- Costs for counseling or therapy services if needed
You should keep records of all medical expenses for your children and provide copies to the non-custodial parent. They are required to reimburse you for their portion as ordered by the court.
Dental and Orthodontic Care
Child support also covers essential dental care for children, including:
- Routine dental checkups, cleanings, fillings, and other basic dental work
- Costs for braces or other orthodontic treatments
Similar to medical expenses, the non-custodial parent will typically be ordered to pay a percentage of all reasonable dental and orthodontic costs for the children in addition to the base child support amount. Keep records of all related expenses to provide for reimbursement.
Ensuring your children’s health needs are covered is a top priority. Make sure you understand exactly what medical, dental and other costs are included in your child support agreement or court order.
Don’t hesitate to ask your attorney to clarify any areas of uncertainty. The wellbeing of your kids is too important to leave to chance.
Other Expenses Potentially Covered by Child Support
In addition to the basic expenses like housing, food, and clothing, child support can potentially cover several other costs related to raising your child. These include:
Medical and dental care
Child support is meant to help provide for your child’s essential needs, so medical and dental expenses are often covered. Things like doctor visits, medications, braces, and other necessary healthcare costs may be included. Make sure you keep records of these expenses to provide to the court.
The cost of your child’s education, from daycare and preschool through college, may be covered wholly or in part by child support payments. This could include tuition, books, supplies, activities, and transportation to and from school. The specific details will depend on the arrangements outlined in your child support order.
Activities outside of school like sports, clubs, summer camps, music lessons, and hobbies may also qualify for coverage through child support. These types of enrichment activities are important for your child’s development and wellbeing. Discuss with the other parent which specific activities you want child support to cover.
Getting your child where they need to go is essential. Child support funds can potentially be used for costs such as a bus pass, gas money, vehicle payments, or other transportation to school, activities, medical appointments, visitations, etc. Keep records of mileage and receipts to provide as evidence for reimbursement.
Child support is meant to be comprehensive and provide for all reasonable needs related to raising a child. While the specific expenses covered will depend on your state’s guidelines and the details of your child support order, it’s best for you and the other parent to communicate openly about what each considers “reasonable needs” for your child. Compromise and flexibility are key.
The ultimate goal should be ensuring your child’s essential needs are met.
So now you know more about what types of expenses are typically covered by child support payments. While the specifics will depend on your custody agreement and situation, you can feel reassured knowing that the essential costs of raising a child like food, shelter, clothing, and medical care should be covered.
The most important thing is that your child’s needs are met. If you have additional questions about managing child support or ensuring your child’s well-being, don’t hesitate to contact legal counsel or a child advocacy group. Raising children is challenging enough without having to worry excessively about financial struggles.
With the right resources and support system in place, you can focus on what really matters – giving your child a happy, healthy upbringing.